By: Bryan Brick | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 6/24/2016 | Send Email
I’m not scared to say it, and I have many times, out loud, to real people: I think the Varner Chardonnays are some of the best, if not the best, Chardonnays made in the United States. These wines are still way under the radar for most wine fans, due to their small production, out-of-the-way location--high in the hills above Portola Valley in the Santa Cruz Mountains--and stylistic choices. But for all of us lucky enough to have tasted these wines vintage after vintage, we can’t help but feel this way. The wines are just too good, with pinpoint precision, amazing complexity, and little “winemaking” to get in the way of the amazing raw materials they put into each and every bottle they make. The bad news, however, is that the 2014 vintage will be the last vintage for these wines from the Spring Ridge Vineyard, as the Varners couldn’t come to an agreement with the owner of the vineyard on and extension of the lease for the vineyard. So get them before they are gone forever.
The 2014 “Bee Block,” long the favorite block of most of our local customers, is once again the richest and fleshiest of the Chardonnay trio. Golden fruits, Gala apples, sous bois and a touch of quinine combine on the serious and centered nose. Weight and ripeness abounds here from the moment it hits your palate. This is textbook Bee Block right down to its hallmark honey background tones. Milled corn, grilled peaches and almond skin, all with the slightest bit of creaminess, roll easily over the palate and barrel towards the direct and powerful finish. If you like your Chards on the bigger side, this is as big as the Varner Chards get.